R16 (New York City Subway car)

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R16 (New York City Subway car)
An R16 car on display at the New York Transit Museum
NYCS R16 training car.jpg
R16 6452 at P.S. 248, Brooklyn (a NYCT training facility) as a training car in July 2001. This car got replaced by an R110B car and was later scrapped.
Manufacturer American Car and Foundry, USA
Replaced BMT Zephyr
Constructed 1954-1955
Entered service 1955
Scrapped 1983 (GE cars)
1987 (WH cars)
Number built 200
Number preserved 4
Number scrapped 196
Formation Single unit cars
Fleet numbers 6300-6499
Capacity 70 (seated)
Operator(s) New York City Subway
Car body construction LAHT carbon steel
Car length 60 ft (18.29 m)
Width 10 ft (3.05 m)
Height 12.08 ft (3.68 m)
Platform height 3.76 ft (1.15 m)
Doors 8
Maximum speed 55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight GE cars (6400-6499) 84,532 lb (38,343 kg), WH cars (6300-6399) 86,270 lb (39,131 kg)
Traction system Westinghouse 1447C; GE 1240A4
Westinghouse UPC631A; GE MCM 17KG113D1
Power output 100 hp (75 kW) / 4 per car
Acceleration 2.5 mph/s (4.0 km/(h·s)) (?)
Braking system(s) WABCO ME42 SMEE
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The R16 was a New York City Subway car manufactured by American Car and Foundry Company from 1954 to 1955 in a kale green paint scheme. The R16s were numbered 6300–6499, and were retired in the late 1970s up through 1983.


First placed into passenger service on January 10, 1955 on the BMT #15, (now J). 50 of the R16 cars (6300-6349) were transferred to the A line in preparation for the opening of the former Long Island Rail Road's IND Rockaway Line on June 28, 1956. The Transit Authority wished to use its newest equipment available for the line's inaugural.[1] After the late 1950s, the 50 R16s were returned to the BMT Eastern Division and would remain there until the late 1960s and the early 1970s when they were transferred to various lines throughout the system. During the 1970s, R16's could be found intermixed with other cars and in far away places from their previous running grounds. Photos of R16's in the Bronx or Queens show them both in complete consists as well as with strange bedfellows.

When delivered, the R16's quickly became the new standard in car design for the New York City Transit Authority. Structurally and mechanically, they were the larger versions of the R17s and yet basically an improved version of the R10s with same exact dimensions except that the R16's had electrically operated door motors while the R10s had pneumatic door engines. When they were new, the R16's could give the R10 some competition when it came to speed - both cars were mechanically similar with four 100 horsepower motors and a balancing speed of 55 MPH.

The R16, like the older Arnines, R10s, and R11s, featured three sets of mid-carbody passenger windows on each side. One set contained an illuminated rollsign box in lieu of a second window. This sign box had three readings arranged vertically - the top two being the train's terminals, and the bottom being the route. This window and signbox pattern became standard for later cars until the R40s. The R16 would also be the last car class delivered with cross wise seating until the R44 order in 1972.

Two cars were painted gold for a celebration in 1955, and most were painted bright red in 1968. The whole fleet was given the new MTA corporate silver and blue scheme in 1970, keeping that paint until the cars were retired, some for as long as 17 years. There were two versions of R16: Westinghouse (R16WH) equipped cars 6300-6399 and the earlier delivered General Electric (R16GE) equipped cars 6400-6499. The General Electric propulsion gear used forced air to cool the rheostatic resistors used for acceleration and dynamic braking. The low voltage rotary converter (motor-generator) was used to provide the air and proved to be problematic as the enclosure tended to trap dirt and rain water within, leading to high failure rates.

The Westinghouse cars had resistors mounted in the open for slip stream cooling as had been the traditional means, and the method used subsequent to the R22 order. In theory, both could be run together however in practice this was found to be less than desirable. Later in their service lives, cars of all classes would be segregated by electrical running gear, helping to provide better fleet reliability.

During the early 1970s, the R16's had their door motors replaced with ones similar to the R44's. As the replacement door motors were mounted in the walls rather than in the original locations under the seats;[2] this resulted in distinctive sloping wall panels unique to the car class.[3]

Retirement and after service life[edit]

The R16GE's began to be replaced by the R46's in 1977 at the planned end of their service lives. Recalled when cracks began to be found in the R46 trucks as well as other reliability issues surfaced, keeping the R16GE's in service until 1983. The R16WH cars were replaced in 1987 by the R68s. The last of the R16's were retired from passenger service in May 1987 from the M line, having been outlived by their older R10 cousins.

After retirement, four R16 cars were saved for various purposes, including:

Another R16 that had been preserved before July 2007 included:

  • 6452 – located at P.S. 248 (a NYCT training facility) until July 2004, Brooklyn as a training car. It was painted in redbird scheme and wasn't operational. In July 2004, the car was moved to Linden Yard, Brooklyn, and was replaced at P.S. 248 with R110B 3005. 6452 was moved again; this time in 2005 to Coney Island Yard. In July 2007, the car was finally moved to the SBK yard for asbestos abatement and sent again to 207 St. Yard for reefing in early 2008.

In popular culture[edit]

Various R16s were featured in the 1982 made-for-TV film "We're Fighting Back",[5] including the interior of some R16s. Several of them included 6301, 6302, 6321, 6333, 6355, 6394, 6398, and 6399, signed up as an LL train. Various stations were renamed in the film, but there are various hints, including the fact it was a solid 8-car set of R16's rather than a 10-car set that it was filmed on the BMT Canarsie Line.

A wooden mockup of an R16 was featured in the 1976 remake of King Kong.

In the 1959 film Imitation of Life several trains consisting of R16s can be seen passing outside the studio window in the flea powder ad scene.


Further reading[edit]

  • Sansone, Gene. Evolution of New York City subways: An illustrated history of New York City's transit cars, 1867-1997. New York Transit Museum Press, New York, 1997 ISBN 978-0-9637492-8-4

External links[edit]